BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - On Saturday April 11, The USS Kidd Museum will commemorate the Kamikaze attack that killed 38 crew members during World War II.
If the threat of rain holds off, young people will line the walkway up to the Fletcher class destroyer ship and will salute as veterans who survived the attack walk aboard for the ceremony.
The men have traveled from Miami, Dade County, Florida, Albuquerque, New Mexico and the Baton Rouge metro area. They range in age from 86 to 94 years old.
Harold Lamb enlisted as a 14-year-old after his brothers had all gone to war. He said his father helped him convince the postmaster to validate his enlistment and off he went to training and then the warfront on the USS Kidd. Lamb said at Pensacola, he trained to be a radio technician and operator. So he was in the USS Kidd's radio room when the Japanese Zero plowed into the ship's hull.
"The bomb exploded as it was going through the starboard to the port side, and it exploded and then damaged the whole port
side of the radio shack and everything," said Lamb, now 86, “and I was hit by shrapnel and so forth, and I was knocked unconscious for a while, ya know? I came back and one thing led to another, and we lost 38 guys that got killed and 54 of us was wounded."
Tim NesSmith is superintendent of the USS Kidd ship. As he looks out over the Kidd in its dry dock almost floating in Mississippi River water, NesSmith says he'd rather the river be high enough to float the Kidd in its cradle. NesSmith says with so many veterans who lived through the kamekazi attack no longer with us, the importance for those who still survive is paramount.
NesSmith envisions young people taking part in Saturday's commemoration because of the need to connect them to these men who saw history happen.NesSmith says the veterans love this interaction too, “One of the things the love to see over the years, is kids learning about their story.”
Hotel Indigo has provided free rooms for the Kidd veterans and their families. Lucy's Restaurant and Bar downtown will
provide free dinner. The Baton Rouge Sheetmetal Workers are sponsoring the entire ceremony. NesSmith says the USS Kidd enjoys wonderful support from the community.
As for Harold Lamb, he does not plan to return to Baton Rouge after this visit, "This'll probably be my last year coming out here. I have a tremendous breathing problem for one thing, and prostate and few other things so I can't see that I'm gonna live that much longer anyway."The ceremony planned for the ship's fantail deck Saturday April 11th will take place at 1:55 pm.
The ceremony is free, admission to the Kidd and its Museum is $8 for adults, $5 for kids ages 5-12.